Late last summer, we heard that Studio Ghibli was taking a step back from the world of animation to consider where to move forward following legendary director Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement. Now we have our answer in The Red Turtle.
The Japanese animation house behind acclaimed titles like My Neighbour Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away is partnering with France’s Wild Bunch for a co-production, レッド・タートル / The Red Turtle.
Story details on The Red Turtle are being kept under wraps. We do know that Dutch-British director Michaël Dudok de Wit will be at the helm, making it the first Studio Ghibli film to have a non-Japanese director. De Wit be earning his debut feature credit as a director, with four short films under his belt to date, including the Oscar-winning Father and Daughter. He co-wrote the script with Pascale Ferran (Bird People).
De Wit reportedly temporarily moved to Koganei, Tokyo, where Studio Ghibli is based, to work on the project with some of the studio’s staff. Oscar nominee Takahata Isao (Grave of the Fireflies) serves as artistic producer. Toshio Suzuki, who’s produced many of Miyazaki’s films, is set to be involved as well.
It’s thought that much of the production itself is being done in France, so Ghibli’s own animators aren’t likely to be involved with the bulk of the animation process beyond storyboarding. That means we probably shouldn’t expect hand-drawn animation that Ghibli has become synonymous with, which is a huge shame.
If all goes well with The Red Turtle next year, though, hopefully it will revive interest in Ghibli’s signature style.
The Red Turtle is expected to be released in September 2016 in Japan. Toho is set to distribute. No word yet on a voice cast or when we can expect it in the UK. StudioCanal has such a close connection with the Japanese animation house, so they seem like a likely bet to bring it to our shores.